Premier calls for end to hypocrisy

| 12/05/2016 | 70 Comments
Cayman News Service

Premier Alden McLaughlin addresses a session at the anti-corruption summit in London, May 2016

(CNS): The Cayman Islands premier has called on the worlds’ nations attending the corruption summit in London to stop the hypocrisy regarding the fight against financial crime and make standards truly global. Alden McLaughlin did not name the United States but he made it clear that any new international standard had to apply to major countries as well as smaller jurisdictions, otherwise the fight would be lost. McLaughlin, who was invited to interject during one of the summit sessions, said there was no point continuing the rhetoric if major countries were excluded from the agreed standards.

While the summit has been criticised for not nailing down all of the British territories to an open public register of beneficial owners, here in the Cayman Islands, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush has taken to Facebook to accuse the premier and Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton of lying to the people and, by agreeing to be part of a wider global exchange on beneficial ownership, of destroying Cayman’s offshore sector.

Yesterday, the Cayman government announced that it was prepared to widen the deal it has with the UK for the exchange of ownership details with the relevant authorities to other countries but was still not prepared to establish a central public register unless and until it becomes the worldwide agreed system.

Speaking at the summit, McLaughlin told representatives and leaders from around the world that Cayman’s historic cooperation and credentials in the fight against corruption could not be seriously challenged any more and the jurisdiction had earned its right to be at the table to help in the development of any new future global standards. However, he made it clear that whatever is agreed had to apply to all.

“In order to be successful and to seriously tackle corruption and not just pay lip service to it, we in this room and beyond must be committed to creating a standard that is truly global. It is time to put behind us the shades of hypocrisy which … have been part and parcel of the global discussion on this issue for years and years,” he said.

Without naming the United States, he added, “If those countries with real political clout on the world stage continue to focus only on smaller jurisdictions … while ignoring obvious jurisdictions that ought to be part of the conversation, the result will be continued failure.”

McLaughlin pressed the message that if corrupt business continues in jurisdictions that are allowed to be left out of committing to any new standard, the efforts to eliminate global corruption will be pointless.

“Corrupt business is not attracted to jurisdictions that maintain high standards and where the light shines brightest, such as the Cayman Islands. Instead, it will be attracted to those places which are less transparent and where the standards are lower than others,” he added.

Ignoring the issue of hypocrisy, NGOs, activists, politicians and the media continue to criticise British Prime Minister David Cameron for failing to persuade the UK’s crown dependencies and overseas territories to agree to a public register of beneficial owners of trusts, funds and other financial entities domiciled in their jurisdictions.

Facing a worldwide clamour and intense pressure from global leaders for full exposure to offshore business, the Cayman Islands delegation has offered to be part of whatever new global standard is required, so long as it is across the board. Nevertheless, McKeeva Bush took aim at McLaughlin and Panton, accusing them of selling out.

In a Facebook post yesterday following the announcement that the Cayman Islands Government was willing to take part in developing new standards for information exchange and repealing the so-called secrecy law, Bush declared it was the end of Cayman’s international business and government’s revenue that it collected from the sector.

“The premier or Wayne Panton said before they left for London that they had 80% support for what they were doing. They will have turned 80% of our people into bankruptcy that’s what they are accomplishing in London,” he wrote on his Facebook page, as he railed against a public register, which he said would put people in danger.

The day-long summit was opened at Lancaster House in London Thursday morning by PM David Cameron, who described corruption as the cancer at the heart of so many problems in the world.

Emerging from the summit is a Global Forum for Asset Recovery, which will bring together governments and law enforcement agencies to discuss returning assets to Nigeria, Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Tunisia.

The UK has also announced a clampdown on property owners, particularly in London, where rich foreigners buy properties but hide their true ownership. Foreign firms that own property in the UK will be required to declare their assets in a public register.

Five other countries, France, Kenya, the Netherlands, Nigeria and Afghanistan, have also pledged to launch public registers of true company ownership. Australia, New Zealand, Jordan, Indonesia, Ireland and Georgia announced initial steps towards similar arrangements.

While there was more attention at the summit on the corruption onshore and the hiding of assets in the major countries, critics still focussed on the UK’s overseas territories and crown dependencies. There were a number of demonstrations in London during the summit about tax havens and the British government’s direct links to many financial centres, with Bermuda and Cayman cited at the top of most lists.

Cameron came to the defence of some British territories, noting that they had come a long way and that Jersey, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Anguilla and the Isle of Man had agreed to join a group of several dozen nations that share their registers with one another.

However, Alan Bell, the chief minister from the Isle of Man, echoed McLaughlin’s sentiments when he said progress could not be made unless the US did more and tackled its own tax havens. John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said that the United States had announced a set of financial regulations designed to force companies to disclose more information about their owners.

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Comments (70)

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  1. True-Blue Long-Term ex-Pat Caymaniac says:

    Having our Premier being recognized for Intelligent, well-reasoned critique of the hypocrisy of UK, USA & other major nations’ constant efforts to impose their will on smaller jurisdictions is far more constructive than his predecessor being outed for shabby & shady use of public funds in Las Vegas…. ALL Caymanians should be proud of Alden’s his standing up to the international Big Bullies! And whilst PPM have much to answef for in their as their decisions over more than seven of the past 11 years have often been of rather poor and questionable quality, this is one time that Cayman because if the courageous and thoughtful statements made by our Premier in a most appropriate global forum, ring loudly in our defense of the rightful attempt to protect Cayman’s integrity as an independent jurisdiction NOT subject to IRS, Inland Revenue nor any other entity. And as for FATCA, the most salient point is that if the USA cannot get the American banks to follow those draconian protocols, why in the devil should our banking system be forced to submit to any foreign jurisdiction that cannot impose its will on its own banking system? There certainly seems to be some truth to the claim that US Banks are “too big to fail” whilst Cayman banks are to small and too gutless to fight.

    • Anonymous says:

      He is tilting at windmills. Far better that he stands up, says “Yes” to public registers and avoids the disaster of blacklisting that is imminent without that step.

    • Anonymous says:

      I shudder at the thought of the embarrassment Mac would have caused had he attended as our Premier.

  2. Just Watchin says:

    CNS, can you please do a “And Mac said” column and put all of McKeeva’s comments in there. That way I can just avoid them when I try to read the news. Thank you

  3. Anonymous says:

    Given the increasing impact of regulations such as US Fatca, UK Fatca and the Common Reporting Standards but also Dodd Frank Act and the Volcker Ruling, it is critical to have someone like Wayne Panton at the helm of our Finacial a industry who actually knows what these things mean, how they impact our Financial Industry and last but not least who actually knows how to pronounce some of this terminology properly. It is crucial that people elect representatives who can represent us internationally with proper knowledge, good attitude and solid negotiation skills so that Cayman can get the respect it deserves. Please keep this in mind! The results may not be immediately seen or felt but I feel very assured that they are there.

  4. Big Brown says:

    Mac is so far out of touch on this issue but I suppose he is just doing what he does. Beating his chest and fear mongering. Sigh.

    • Anonymous says:

      Poor old Mac, desperately trying to stay relevant. I’d like to encourage CNS to take up a previous poster’s plea to “containerize” everything Mr.Bush has to say so that anyone with any sense can avoid it. Thanks.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So he offered to resign?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I must say, I admire Premier McLaughlin’s boldness for presenting the hypocrisy comments to this forum, despite my expectations to the contrary. It was absolutely the right thing to do at the right place and time!!

    Maybe the big boys won’t listen but at least he spoke up!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have the answer. If all these other places are dodgy as he says and Cayman is so pure perhaps Alden can impose a global blacklist stopping these dodgy places dealing with Cayman.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well ,without a doubt money is going to leave and go back to the states and europe. On top of that banks will keep closing down and leaving. We make $500,000 per year licensing from banks. Do people forget a short time ago we had over 600 banks? Last count was 184 banks. Can no one see we got a problem?
    The people who charge ridiculous prices for everything we need will soon have to charge less like apts. It’s only a matter of time. What is plan”B”? We still don’t want to downsize the civil service. The medical, housing, car insurance rates have been ridiculous from day one. Will this be the nail that seals the coffin? We need to bring other ideas to the table besides tourism. Why can’t we manufacture something that we can export and help bring down the cost of living in these islands? We have a shortfall due to rising costs of medical treatment mostly due to patients being sent to USA. But I believe we could save money in the process by getting the gov’t to collect the premium from the entire population on island of 60,000. If we charge $200 person we would be collecting 12 million dollars per month, 144 million per year. At the end of the day Gov’t pays the medical bill of anyone who is not covered by insurance and there are many. If we have people without insurance cut a deal with DR. Shetty to be together with the gov’t hospital and bring DOWN the price of medical services.
    We need new ideas folks and fast.
    Pensions should be loans to Gov’t for infrastructure such as the piers,airport, hospital,schools,roads. The gov’t could pay 6% and create more cost of living savings. Then pensions would be secure. Instead of buying stocks,funds and other risky investments .

    • Anonymous says:


    • Lester Grace says:

      8:16 am, you have some good points, but let’s be real…… most of it ain’t gonna happen! Too much greed….. and a lot of it is endemic in our government.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you 1000%, very insightful comments. You are one individual with your eyes open. Cayman government have their people brain washed into thinking everything is Okay.
      Just do what is best for you and your family. It’s a big world outside of Cayman and I know you can make it.
      #Keep your eyes open more to come.

    • Anonymous says:

      Let me get this straight, you say Cayman is going to colapse and then want our pensions to be invested in Cayman. Great idea

  9. Anonymous says:

    I would like to call an end to the premier’s term too, but I’m stuck with it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Can you imagine where we would be if McKeeva was at that table in London? What a shambles that would have been with the world leaders knowing him for what he is and what he represents!

    Well done Alden and Wayne. Given the circumstances you both have done all that you could.

    God grant you both a safe return home.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The World is getting closer and closer to a One World Global Government Ruling Leadership System that all Countries have to comply with and be a part of.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The US is not likely to have a public registry of company ownership any time soon. This is not a big issue in the US. Records are easily obtained by law enforcement.

    • Jotnar says:

      1) they are available here on enquiry by law enforcement or tax enforcement 2) they are not available in the States like Delaware for the simple reason that they don’t ask for the ultimate beneficiary information in the first place. As for bank accounts – the same country that forces FATCA compliance on others does not require its banks to meet the same standard. McLaughlin is right – its rank hypocrisy. The difference is that they can get away with it – no one is going to blacklist the US – we cannot.

      • Anonymous says:

        1) Not so far. Your judges seem to think the account owner has to be informed first. Maybe after you finally change the secrecy law your statement will be true. 2) In the US it does not matter what the stock registry says, they just follow the money trail. The corporate technicalities beloved in Cayman (and heretofore in the UK) do not work inside the US. That is a big reason why Cayman is of use to New York.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why would you think to blacklist the US? That’s where a large piece of your business comes from. It’s definitely not a level field, but there is no reason why it should be.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Mac – you never learned the meaning of the words honest and integrity. So please when corruption is being discussed, that is not a discussion in which you should participate.

    Premier – you did us very well today.

    International press quotes your accurate statements of the Cayman Islands already having high standards for international finance transparency, sharing of information, “know your customer”, an acknowledgement that more must be done but it is now time for the major countries and others catch up with the Cayman Islands in fighting corruption and recognizing the legitimate role of International Financial Centres.

    Even the UK Prime Minister acknowledged that the City of London has a lot of corruption to clean up.,

    Premier Cameron we wish you well in your anti-corruption fight.

    Thank you Premier McLaughlin for holding your head high, speaking forthright in the honest factual defence of the Cayman Islands in the world of international finance.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Mr Premier, please don’t bother, you are a nobody in the real world and most of them will be saying ‘Alden who?’ And after the next election you will be forgotten anyway, and what’s that saying about the pot calling the kettle black? When it comes to hypocrisy, this government is a champion.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Yes, the complaints of the tax havens will be give due consideration, especially by the countries whose leaders use their secrecy to hide the benefit of their corrupt activities. Only a public register accessible by journalists and fraud investigators will make any difference to benefit the world as a whole. The tax havens know registers accessible only by government agencies will make little difference which is why they are lobbying for them.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Mac is still of the view that if you tell a lie repeatedly and consistently a majority of people will believe it to be true. Well the people will only be fooled some of the time Mac….. On the other hand the PPM has a great honest high integrity story that they only repeat occasionally and it gets lost in all the loud independen/opposition noise. God help us and continue to bless our beautiful Isles.

  17. Anonymous says:

    That money will be rolling out soon to a safer country with no tax info agreement. The government did sign up for benifical ownership info but not a public one, Either way the tax man Wil be able to seized assets which was stolen from the respective countries.
    Good luck with passing a law to keep that dirty money here like the new pension law that they are trying to pass.
    This summit was mentioned to find a solution to the tax avoiding issue
    This year alone the Swiss government had to return 300 million dollars to the Kenyon people because of coruption.
    Cayman made plenty money from dirty tax avoidance.
    Those days are over my friends.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Well done Allahden, I bet they’re shaking in their boots.

    Now when you get home can you please try and come up with a plan to tackle our piss poor government school system and our rampant crime problem? …Your days in office are numbered so make them count.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Mac should take to Twitter, its what he does best.

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